Sometimes I run into a series that makes me re-examine the reasons why I love a certain genre, for better or worse. This time, it’s for the better. A Perfect Day for Love Letters by George Asakura is a harsher look into the topic of love in a completely imperfect environment. As opposed to other series where it seems as though the universe is contained in its own little pocket of space that exists to martyr the female protagonist, no one is safe in the hands of Asakura. In fact, unlike 90% of the shoujos in publication right now, not all the stories are confined to high school doki-dokis.
Asakura’s art style also lends itself to this ‘reality of love’. No one, no one in this series is overtly beautiful or sparkly. Boys are hardly ever close to being bishonen and the girls make some of the most unattractive faces in the series. And it’s freaking great. It allows the reader to make their own conclusions about the relationships rather than subconsciously being drawn towards one person over the other because of their perceived trope.
This review is going to be a little different than the others because, as I stated previously, this series is comprised of a compilation of stories rather than having one overarching plot. As such, I’m going to go over each story briefly just so the difference in theme can be more easily seen. If it sounds like I’m trying to sell the series to you, I am. Read it. Seriously. So, let’s take a look at these imperfect lovers.
Love Letters in the Library: “You are snow/You make me white and cold/ Then you make me freeze/ You are snow” This anonymous love letter Ririko receives sends her on a silent quest to become closer to the letter’s author through literature. Attempting to get closer to the chilly library caretaker, the author sends her book recommendations with items that leave an impression on him like the books. Eventually, Ririko finds him only to discover that it was the person who she despised the most.
To One That Doesn’t Know Me: One afternoon, Ayako finds a letter floating down from the sky addressed to ‘Katase Rino-sama’. After reading it, she falls for the pure-hearted author, the punkish Masamura Yasushi. Despite his reputation, they continue exchanging letters via the rooftop of their school, becoming closer until Ayako’s eventual one-sided confrontation with Katase-san.
Flowers Blooming in the Snow: Inarguably the most serious story in the volume. Kumishiro-kun finds a letter stating, “I don’t care if everyone else forgets about me… You’re the only one I want to remember me. I might disappear.” After hearing about her staying out all night in the snow, Kumishiro discovers the letter is from Miyashita Chiyuki, a girl whose mother’s loose reputation leaks onto her. Kumishiro begins to doubt his initial thoughts on the sender after not receiving a reply, but after inadvertently saving Chiyuki from being raped by her mother’s boyfriend the answer to that becomes less and less important. Opposite her chilly appearance, Chiyuki is very childlike and silly, which draws Kumishiro further into his infatuation. The entire time, the relationship and even Chiyuki herself seem very fragile, like they could break with any wrong move and this feeling never exactly leaves. It’s haunting and beautiful, and will stay with you.
Love Letter Panic: In a whiplash mood-change from the previous story, this follows yanki (rude-talkin’, don’t take no shit) Hayakawa as she tries to find the author of her love letter with hilarious results. Although this story is much simpler than the others, the message is probably my favorite out of all of them. As Hayakawa changes herself to fit what she thinks will attract her crush-ee, she confuses not only herself but everyone else around her. However, in the end she finds that she doesn’t have to change who she really is just to grab someone’s attention. Not every shoujo heroine needs to be super cute and demure; punks deserve love too!
The Mailman’s Love: This is the story that caused the most controversy when it came out and once you get past the shoujo-ness, it is somewhat a disturbing tale. The local neighborhood mailman (who, interestingly enough, doesn’t have a name) develops a crush on a secluded cellist but is surprised to find out one day when delivering her a letter—a rare occurrence—that she is blind. Due to this, she asks him to read the letter to her, however he changes the contents of the letter when he discovers that it’s her boyfriend breaking up with her. From this point on, he writes letters to her in place of her boyfriend until he finally writes her a letter telling her of his heart. Feeling understandably confused and tricked, she runs out in a daze, only placated when he promises her that he will continue writing under the guise of her old boyfriend. It’s kawaii Stockholm syndrome for the whole family!
What lends this series strength is that Asakura never makes his opinion of the relationships clear to the audience. Of course, there’s a story behind them he’s trying to tell, but the audience is free to feel that it’s creepy, annoying, childish, cute, or whatever based on their previous experiences in love without being pressured into thinking that something is “right”. Because when in life are we ever truly sure that something is completely right? Life is gritty and uncomfortable and that’s what Asakura draws his strengths from.